Gillard's old friends dig up the dirt | The Australian:
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Gillard's old friends dig up the dirt.
Julia Gillard has made a few doozies in her life and she is paying for them now. Call it karma, call it retribution, call it plain old revenge, Gillard is suffering from events of 17 years ago, and not only because, as Nicola Roxon observed, she might have had bad taste in men. You think?
Even if, as Gillard says, she did nothing wrong when she was a partner in law firm Slater & Gordon, what happened then was not trivial and nor is it now inconsequential, no matter how hard she and her supporters try to make it so.
The excuses made on her behalf are as numerous as those she makes for herself. They run along these lines: nothing has emerged to prove she has done anything wrong, it was so long ago it is irrelevant today, no smoking gun has been produced, no documents have surfaced to contradict her accounts, plus her accusers are either shonky, they have an axe to grind, they are desperate for distractions, they are throwing mud, they are throwing old mud or they are misogynist nut jobs and sexist pigs.
Gillard's frustration is palpable, her fury barely disguised in the face of these attacks on her honesty and her character. You could see it in parliament and at her press conference. In parliament it was a toss-up what she found the most galling: the fact that Julie Bishop was daring to question her, or that Tony Abbott refused for two days to question her at all about that issue.
Sensibly, Abbott stayed out of it, lashed like Ulysses to his chair in the house, resisting the calls of the sirens, knowing if he responded he risked terminal injuries. As one of his advisers said: "When all your enemies are pressuring you to do something, then clearly it is not a good idea to do it."
It suits Gillard to present the campaign against her as some vast right-wing conspiracy; however, she knows only too well the roots of this story lie deeply embedded in the Labor movement.
One Labor MP, a supporter of Gillard, neatly summed up by blaming a "rat-infested AWU for her political persecution".
Abbott's strategic withdrawal also sensibly ended with Gillard's decision to jump before she was rolled by her own backbenchers over the UN vote to grant observer status to Palestine. The leaking of that story so quickly and so comprehensively, especially the detail of the cabinet debate where she overruled her ministers to insist on a no vote was an ominous sign for Gillard.
Another ominous sign was Bob Carr opposing her in cabinet then threatening to speak against her in caucus, which would have resulted in her losing both the vote and her foreign minister.
Finally the gravity of her situation sunk in.
After amputating her legs, Carr sped out to praise her support for the abstention he had compelled her to adopt as a display of clever leadership. There's a Yiddish word for that: chutzpah. In English, it's give us a break.
If Gillard had not been so preoccupied by the AWU scandal, she would have seen it coming. If she had been properly plugged in to her caucus she would have known the numbers were not there. Then again her capacity to read people and judge situations has always been suspect.
At Monday's press conference she was defiant and belligerent, complaining about the recycling and re-recycling of old fabrications, daring journalists to choose between her and self-confessed fraudster Ralph Blewitt, without once saying he was present when she signed his power of attorney.
She seized on the contribution of one of the crooners, that band of sympathetic male journalists, to thank him and echo his question by asking: "what is the big deal?" Try this: she was the instrument used by her then boyfriend, AWU official Bruce Wilson, to help set up the instrument that enabled the defrauding of hundreds of thousands of dollars that today remains missing. Owners of the Fitzroy property shouldn't waste time fossicking in the backyard.
For some people hundreds of thousands of dollars isn't a big deal. For others it is. It reminds them of other big deals such as the one that got Michael Williamson into so much trouble, the same one that wrecked Craig Thomson's career, or the ones Eddie Obeid is accused of which are stinking out the NSW Labor Party.
For too long people inside the Labor movement failed to acknowledge big deals even when they rose up and bit them on the bum. If you are looking for reasons for record low membership, add this to the list.
Just for fun, how's this for another big deal: Gillard accuses the opposition of wallowing in sleaze, yet she spent four years surrounded by it and was, by her own admission, oblivious to it.
Her boyfriend's bestie all that time was Blewitt, who has gone from bagman to bogeyman to criminal genius. Blewitt says Wilson was the mastermind, Wilson insists it was Blewitt and that he was burying stolen money in the backyard. Dontcha love it when thieves fall out.
Echoes reverberated on the ABC's 7.30 when Wilson said he could not see what the big deal was, nor understand why this story kept getting recycled and recycled. Perhaps it's partly because its taken 17 years for Blewitt and Wilson to talk publicly about it.
Blewitt is the same bestie Gillard now describes as an imbecilic sexist pig and crook, who was joined at the hip with her then boyfriend. It is the same Blewitt the government reckons is a "scumbag" and that Bishop's contact with him in pursuit of information against the Prime Minister warrants her sacking because it showed her lack of judgment.
Bishop's meeting with Blewitt was dumb and her loose words garnered the kind of prominent coverage denied to the original questions to the Prime Minister over her role, but hey, if you follow the government's arguments of guilt by association to its logical conclusion, where does it lead you with the Prime Minister?
Gillard, showing way too much hubris and way too little self-awareness, picked up on the theme in parliament to get stuck into the opposition for its lack of standards "and the company they keep".
Gillard's prime ministership has turned into a cross between Judge Judy ("they done me wrong your honour") and CSI (join the dots, find the culprits).
She is ending the parliamentary year as she began it. Very badly. Her enemies inside and outside, in front of her and behind her, will not give up, confident any poll improvement is ephemeral.
According to one Ruddite, the AWU scandal isn't killing her, not yet, and it won't unless something else emerges, but it is hurting her. A lot. All because of that pesky question of trust, which hangs like a shroud over almost everything she says and does.
Gillard's old friends dig up the dirt | The Australian: